Things have been getting a bit intense on here lately so I thought I’d offer something a bit gentler to balance it out a bit in the form of a post about books. Note, not book review. I’ve always been very bad at book reviews…
So, in no particular order, here are some books, authors and series (I really want to write serieses but apparently that’s not correct…) that I’ve been loving recently…
Robin Hobb. I absolutely absolutely love all of her books. I’ve devoured most of them through a mix of kindle and audiobooks. They are fantasy books, set in other worlds, with strong characters including some fantastic female leads.
If you’re new to Hobb then this is the recommended order to read her series in:
- The Farseer Trilogy; Assassin’s Apprentice, Roayl Assassin, Assassin’s Quest
- The Liveship Traders; Ship of Magic, The Mad Ship, Ship of Destiny
- The Tawny Man Trilogy; Fool’s Errand, The Golden Fool Fool’s Fate (def read the Farseer Trilogy first as it’s the same characters)
- The Rain Wild Chronicles; Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven, City of Dragons, Blood of Dragons
- Fitz and the Fool; Fool’s Assassin, Fool’s Quest, Assassins Fate (not yet released)
The series all work if you read them alone but reading all of them adds to the experience. She also has a standalone series; The Soldier’s Son trilogy and also writes under the name Megan Lindholm.
Mercades Lackey. Sorry if you don’t like fantasy, it seems to be my prevalent genre right now. You can find an epic list of her writing on her website. I’ve been limited cos not everything is available as an ebook as far as I can find. However I really enjoyed all of the Collegium Chronicles and the Herald Spy Books
I am currently reading the Elemental Masters series. I’m a third of the way through the second. I was describing them to someone the other day and the best I could find was historical fiction with magic.
Again, Lackey has great characters with strong women which always endears a book to me. She’s also done a lot of collaborative writing with some great authors.
The Evermen Saga. I can’t remember why I got the first of these books by James Maxwell but I do know I wasn’t really expecting much. I found the first part of the first book ok but not gripping but from there on, things picked up and I rapidly read all of the four books. I’ve not read anything else by Maxwell but I would recommend this series.
The Hangman’s Daughter Tales. A series of five books by Oliver Potzsch, these books are set it German in the 1660s and follow the lives of a hangman and his daughter (really? I know, shocking!). The daughter is a strong willed, arguably stubborn woman who finds herself in the middle of a number of bizarre and mysterious situations. The stories unfold at a time when memories of war and the persecution of witchcraft are still raw. The exclusion that the hangman and his family provide an unusual viewpoint for the events which unfold.
Interesting side note, apparent Potzsch is descended from hangmen, a profession which passed from father to son.
The Thief Taker and The Fire Catcher by C.S.Quinn were at one point £1 each on kindle and looked interesting. Set in the 1600s, this time in London during the plague and the great fire, they tell the tale of Charlie Tuesday. Charlie was an orphan who now works as a thief taker, that is, he finds stolen items. In the Thief Taker, he is approached by a woman who asks him to find her sisters killer. Underlying this is the mysterious key that Charlie wears around his neck. He was given it as a child and has no idea what it opens. As the story progresses, he unlocks some of his own history as well as clues to the murder.
The Fire Catcher is a sequel set a year later during the great fire of London. Charlie is still looking for answers about who he is as the city burns around him, possibly destroying the very information he is searching for. Whilst this is a sequel and does carry on from The Thief Taker, I think you could easily read it alone.
The Paper Magician Series. Written by Charlie N. Holmberg, these books are set in a magical London in the early 1900s. They’re interesting stories, there’s a stubborn female lead who I periodically found to be dislikeable but the books are very readable. Compared to the likes of Hobb and Lackey, I found the two I’ve read so far to be much lighter – think takeaway pizza instead of a Sunday roast. They are free to borrow if you subscribe to kindle unlimited and there’s an audio version as well.
Pride Against Prejudice was published in 1991 and was written by Jenny Morris, a disabled feminist. Although this dates from the early nineties, a lot of the content is sadly still very relevant today. This well written, easy to read book looks at a few key areas of disability prejudice including abortion and disability, disabled lives being not worth living, euthanasia, disability in western culture, institutionalisation and feminist research around community care.
“We all experience oppression as a result of the denial of our reality. If our reality is not reflected in the general culture, how can we assert our rights? If non-disabled people would rather not recognise disability, or only recognise specific forms, how can they recognise our experience of our bodies? If we do not ‘appear’ as real people, with the need for love, affection, friendship, and the right to a good quality of life, how can non-disabled people give any meaning to our lives?” – Jenny Morris
My copy of this (actual physical book) is now filled with post-it notes as she makes so many great points and phrases things well. A readable book which is littered with personal experiences as well as the facts and research you would expect from an academic writer.
“To continue to live as best we can, keeping faith with who we know ourselves to be, in the face of what society has decided we are, does take courage.” – Pam Evans, quoted in Pride Against Prejudice
Scapegoat, Why we are failing disabled people. Katharine Quarmby investigates how disabled people are treated today (the book was first published in 2011). From the back cover:
- 80% of children with learning difficulties are bullied at school
- Nearly 50% of disabled people have recently experienced or witnessed physical abuse
- 90% of the population have never invited a disabled person into their home [knowingly… I assume?]
- The number of disability hate crimes reported has risen by 75% in one year alone
This book covers some of the history which brings us to where we are today in terms of disability as well as personal stories from disabled people and their families. The book opens with the horrific details of Kevin Davies’ death. He was a young man who had epilepsy and was tortured and killed by his supposed friends in 2006 after being imprisoned in a garden shed. This is not an enjoyable read however it is well written and provides an update to Jenny Morris’s book.
*Those more observant of you will notice two copies of The Midwich Cuckoos in the picture. I love John Wyndham and was happily reading my copy only to get to the centre and find ten pages missing. The book was from a charity shop but looked like it had never been read. The pages weren’t torn out, it looked like they’d been missed out during printing… So I had to wait until my lunch break the next day so I could rush to the library, read the missing pages and then return to my copy.